Friday, April 13, 2012

quinoa patties

baked quinoa and vegetable patties

I just discovered this recipe for baked quinoa and vegetable patties. I was drawn to it because it reminded me of the goodness of a homemade veggie burger, but in a tiny package. These patties are a little different; they are more bite-sized and can be eaten as an appetizer or on top of a big vegetable salad.

I made my own modifications to the original recipe:

  • used just a quarter of a large red onion instead of a whole onion (I don't have an aversion to onions necessarily; a whole onion just seemed like a lot for the amount of quinoa, which in the recipe was 2 1/2 cups)
  • used only 2 eggs instead of 5 (I figured since I'm not using nearly as much onion, the mixture won't need as much egg to hold that is all the eggs I had left!)
  • used ground flaxseed in place of breadcrumbs
  • omitted the cumin: I love cumin, but since I am now in a half-Indian household where Indian meals are made at least twice a week, I wanted a different spice for a change
  • added garlic (does a Filipino eat anything without garlic?)
  • added more chives
  • added a little more feta
  • a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice and some lemon zest - amazing what a little citrus can do

I also used a shortcut: I did not have fresh kale, but I did have a bag of frozen chopped greens (mixture of collard greens and kale) that A. picked up at Whole Foods recently. It was perfect for this recipe since the greens were already chopped small - so I started thawing out about 1 1/2 cup (which of course ended up being less than a cup after thawing - so just adjust depending on how much greens you want). 

I tried both ways of cooking as she specified in her recipe: I baked most of it, but cooked a few patties in a cast iron skillet. I do love how using a skillet makes the patties develop a more crunchy crust. Also, whenever I make something that requires egg mixed in, I cook one small piece to check for seasoning. I decided that I would bake the rest (as it has raw egg) to save for later, then I can always warm them in a skillet when I want to enjoy a few (or several). The patties didn't get quite as brown in the oven, but I didn't want to bake them any further as they might dry out. It seems that they tend to hold together better in the oven though, which will make it easier to brown in a skillet later.

browning the patties in a skillet adds a delicious crunchy crust

An "easier" way to get that deeper brown crust might be to place the baking sheet on the top rack and broil the patties for a minute, keeping a close eye on them. But despite knowing my way around the kitchen (or so I thought), I am afraid of broiling things due to a kitchen mishap several years ago. In an effort to achieve that deeper golden brown color, I set my beautiful, painstakingly-made spanakopita on fire once. I thought I would just watch it, then I got distracted and started doing something else (multi-tasking FAIL). Just a few minutes later there were flames on top of my spanakopita. So there. Lesson learned. No. More. Broiling.

Going back to these quinoa patties: these are a nutritional powerhouse - protein, iron, and fiber from quinoa, the vitamins and minerals of dark leafy greens, more protein from the egg and feta, plus lots of herb-y flavor.

They are great on their own, but I also experimented with a faux "aioli" - just some good-quality mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice, lemon zest, finely minced garlic, salt, pepper, and chives.

I imagine I could easily make modifications on this recipe based on what I have available - maybe spinach instead of kale, maybe some grated carrot (to add a little color as well), maybe try different herbs like parsley, etc.

Unfortunately, A. - my biggest food fan and *kind* critic - was not jumping with joy over these, as he's not the biggest fan of quinoa. He does like millet though, so I might try it another time using millet instead.

Oh well. More for me. And that's not such a big problem to have, right? ;-)

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